RIDGEFIELD — Melissa Simmons will receive the Medal of Courage as part of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame’s Class of 2022.
The Medal of Courage recipient is a wrestler who has overcome insurmountable challenges while providing inspiration to others. Originally from Ridgefield, Simmons suffered a fractured eye socket and retina damage in a car crash when she was 18.
Doctors feared she would never be able to open her eye and never be able to wrestle again, but Simmons returned to the mat and went on to have a highly successful career wrestling for Oklahoma City University.
Prior to the crash, she had lost a teammate and best friend in a drowning accident and suffered an ACL injury.
After graduation, Simmons went on to work as an assistant coach for OCU and as the director of operations for North Carolina State’s wrestling program and later coached several USA Wrestling teams, including University Worlds, Junior Worlds and Pan Am Championships.
She was the first women’s director for the state of North Carolina, and she is now director of operations for the University of Oklahoma women’s gymnastics team. In addition to her many other accomplishments, Simmons will also be the first female Medal of Courage recipient.